With pre-season training all but wrapped up and the first of the higher scoring World Cup events kicking off this weekend in China, we’ve put together a list of riders we’re excited to watch compete this season. Comp Season is upon us, and whether you’re a contest lover or hater, these riders are the ones pushing the limits of what is currently possible on a snowboard.
From young new riders to GOATs, veterans and contest owners, snowboarding’s best of the best are ready to drop. Here’s who we’re putting in our fantasy snowboard team this season.
After his most successful season to date in 2022, there’s no denying Val is on a tear. Having spent some time healing a sore ankle, the 18-year-old is focused on multi-discipline domination to back up his incredible performance last year.
Last year he became the first rider in World Cup history to podium in all three events in the same season on his way to claiming the Park and Pipe overall crystal globe. On top of that, he also walked away with the big air globe including his first career World Cup win in Edmonton last year.
His trophy room is running out of space – can’t wait to see what Val does this year.
Fresh off lapping the Perisher Park all Spring, a sick sunrise session at Thredbo and an incredible section in the film Schnitzel Time, Anna is looking so sharp right now. A dual Big Air Olympic Gold Medalist, it seems like Anna spends more time on her snowboard than anyone – and last season she showed why she’s one of the best to ever do it, winning Bakuriani World Championships gold.
There’s not much to say about Anna that hasn’t been said before. Her style is like a fine wine, she goes bigger and bigger every year, and she’s matching many of the younger riders in spins and corks. Keep your eye on Anna!
From private indoor park sessions to Louis Vuitton shows in Paris, Su Yiming is in the prime of his career right now. He is pure, freakish talent, dual Olympic medalist in Beijing and looks as though he’s not slowing down judging by what he’s been doing in Europe recently. Get the calculator out, Su Yiming is dropping in soon.
With more globes than SDS, Reira is pushing the level of women’s snowboarding above and beyond. At X Games last year she became the first woman to and a triple cork in competition on her way to winning gold. She’s got a swagger about her for someone so young, and with tricks very few other women have in their arsenal right now. Reira is one to watch, and extra points for that Analog outfit.
We’re such big fans of Takeru. Somehow despite doing 5 plus rotations he manages to make it look cool and different as opposed to stale and monotonous. With a podium already under his belt this season, he’s hot on the heels of the rest of the Japanese contingent. He also somehow makes that Oakley Medusa Mask look less Burning Man and more iconic snowboard fit.
A couple of stats for you – 22 years old, Olympic slopestyle gold medalist, Natural Selection winner, five-time X Games gold medalist, 23 podiums in a row. Zoi Synnott is already one of the greats, and what’s better is she does it with a down to earth demeanor and an unparalleled likability.
Zoi is your favourite snowboarder’s favourite snowboarder – and one of the coolest things about her is her loyalty to her mates, one of which is fellow ANZAC Tess Coady. They’re friends first, competitors second and in our opinion they truly both push each other to ride better, regularly landing atop the podium together.
Two of the best riders in the world from Down Under – that’s something to get behind! Can’t wait to see what these two do this season!
If there was a fantasy snowboarder team, Tiarn would 100% be included in our picks. He’s on an absolute tear right now and has one of the coolest styles in competition snowboarding. After recovering from injuries over the past few years, the young Kiwi is back on his board and has his sights set on a full international winter with the NZ Team – we just wish hitting cross court landings was included in slopestyle comps.
All-four 1980s. We’ll just leave that there for you to comprehend. Right now, nobody else on earth can do what Taiga can do, and if that isn’t enough to convince you that he’s the man to beat, we’re not sure what else to tell you.
Last season, Mia became the first woman in snowboard history to land a 1440 in competition, mid-run we might add. Combine this with an incredibly technical rail game, and the best outerwear choices in women’s snowboarding, Mia is on her way become one of snowboarding’s next big stars.
How does this new breed of riders spinning in unimaginably difficult ways stack up against the style of Mark McMorris, the creativity of Marcus Kleveland and Red Gerard’s ability to perform under pressure? Time will tell. With more X-games medals between these three than any other trio, the GOATS of slopestyle can’t be ruled out for domination this winter.
A recent part owner of X-Games and fresh off a wedding in Venice, all eyes will be on the current king of halfpipe as he straps on the red boxing gloves for another season of pipe domination. Scotty is one of the most successful Australian athletes in any sport, winning almost everything there is to win and nearing Shaun’s X-Games medal record. Scotty is a strategist, spinning and grabbing in ways no one else can, and puts in the work to get where he needs to be to win – with that said, he still blows our minds with his creativity every time he straps in.
Are these two the best brothers in snowboarding?
Any time anything from Ayumu and Kaishu Hirano drops, you watch. With more spin and corks being added in the halfpipe every season – these two are the antiheros in halfpipe’s trajectory toward monotony. They bring unbeatable style and size to their tricks rivalled by no one else, and are atop the long list of incredible Japanese riders snapping at their heels. Can’t wait to see these two drop in this year.
In 2022, Gaon burst on the scene, raising eyebrows around the world as she became the youngest-ever women’s superpipe champion – a record held since 2015 – and the winner of South Korea’s first X-Games medal. She has a maturity to her riding rare for someone of her age – a winning combination of flow and technicality with a style that’s easy on the eye.
With her sights set on the 2026 Olympics, Gaon’s future, and with that, the future of women’s halfpipe, is bright.